James Cooper Obituary, Death – On June 8th, James Kenneth “Kenny” Cooper, the inventor of Cooper Steel, left this life to be with The Lord Jesus Christ. He died quietly in his sleep at home after a long battle with illness. He was born in the Bedford Community on October 7, 1932, as the only child of the late J.E. and Edith Cooper. After 62 years of marriage, he was predeceased by his wife Faye Waggoner Cooper.
Survivors include wife Pearly White Cooper, sons Barry Don (Pamela) Cooper of Shelbyville and Gary Kenneth (Terri) Cooper of Nashville, one stepson, Billy Moore of Christiana, six grandchildren Terry Don Cooper of Wartrace, Arenda Jane Groves of Madisonville, KY, Matthew Garrett Cooper of Decatur, AL, Cory Lee Cooper of Franklin, Jordan Kendrick (Brittney) Cooper of Brentwood, and Sydney Cathryn Cooper of Nolensville, and one step-granddaughter Toshia (Josh) Moore Pitts. He has six great-grandchildren as well as two step-great-grandchildren. All in his family adored and revered him.
He lost 80% of his hearing when he was five years old, but that did not stop him from chasing the American Dream of owning his own business. As a young adult, he attended welding school in Nashville and purchased a small flatbed truck to haul his one welding machine as a side hustle. He abandoned his day job in 1960, at the age of 28, to create Cooper Steel. That humble beginning by a motivated young entrepreneur was immensely blessed by God (in his opinion) and has grown to be a steel fabrication and erecting company serving customers in several states.
He was devoted to God, his family, his friends, and the employees of the firm he started and led for many years. He was an avid builder. After retiring from the corporation, he spent his final years looking for other Christian and humanitarian groups (many of which were local) to financially and otherwise support. He was particularly fond of funding capital projects such as church extensions, free food distribution facilities, Christian groups that sheltered and assisted foster children and children in difficulty, and Christian schools. His great generosity was passed down to his offspring, ensuring that his legacy of giving lives on. He also enjoyed reading Christian authors’ novels and recommending the best of them to family and friends.
He attended Edgemont Baptist Church until his health deteriorated and was a member of the Gideons. Tamra Whitley and Debbie Morgan, carers, deserve particular recognition. Visitation will be held at Edgemont Baptist Church on Sunday, June 11th, from 4-8 p.m., and again on Monday, June 12th, from 1 p.m. until his life will be celebrated at the church at 2:00 p.m. The service will be led by Bro. Jeff Rasnick. The funeral will be held at the New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery.
Cooper Steel employees, as well as Gideons and Auxiliary members from the Shelbyville camp, will serve as honorary pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, Cooper Christian Academy, PO Box 6, Shelbyville, TN 37162, Circle of Friends Christian Preschool, or a charity of your choice would be appreciated.